Tag Archives: Tomorrowland

Trailers of the Week — Around the Globe: Horror, Fashion, and Earthquakes

Sisterhood of Night

by Gabriel Valdez

This was a hell of a week for trailer announcements. Joining some really intriguing action flicks are horror movies from India, Ireland and – of course – the U.S., a crime film from France, and two very different portrayals of the French fashion industry.


It’s hard being a kid. Standing up for counter-culture and the social outsider is one of the most important things movies can do – I guarantee you films like The Craft, Pump Up the Volume, and Heathers got me through some very rough patches. So The Sisterhood of Night might seem an odd headliner, but it’s the project I most want to highlight. What films like it once communicated to me, I hope this film can communicate to others.

This got its start on Kickstarter. That actually may be one of the most viable ways to support movies made by women (such as writer Marilyn Fu and director Caryn Waechter here) when the studio system refuses to drop its boys’ club attitude toward filmmaking.


Some of the most exciting new cinema in the world is coming from India, whose long-successful film industry has been involving grittier presentations of social commentary as of late. Sunrise looks to confront issues of child abduction and prostitution (a government study in 2007 estimated 53.22% of Indian children face sexual abuse), and the trailer is soaked in just as much style as our own best film noirs.


Nobody does crime movies quite like the French do crime movies. Jean Dujardin, who boasts an Oscar for his performance in The Artist, plays a judge who spends his life trying to dismantle an international drug ring. Director Cedric Jimenez is fairly new, with only one prior film under his belt, but if the trailer’s any indication, he’s not afraid to swing for the fences.


This might actually be the best-made trailer of the week. The opening sequence would last too long but for that sound design. Jesus, that sound design. And once you’re done with that, the trailer just assaults you with a punk sensibility toward your ears and eyes (don’t watch this with headphones on). Another movie that got its start on Kickstarter, this is how you announce that your film is meant to be something both visceral and unique.


This is the other side of horror, and this trailer builds mystery and suspense in a frighteningly suggestive way. I have no clue what the plot is, but I am quite confident of the emotions the filmmakers seek to evoke. A few more trailers jealously guarding their plot from you – like these last two – would certainly make moviegoing a fresher, more mysterious experience.


It’s always season for biopics, and director Bertrand Bonello is a director with a history of crafting challenging portrayals of his subject matter outside the mainstream. In the last 15 years, he’s made challenging films covering pornography (The Pornographer), brothels (House of Tolerance), and adapted a Greek myth about transexuality into the Brazilian countryside (Tiresia).


On French fashion, there’s also a fascinating documentary coming out on Dior’s new artistic director and the history of the seamstresses who quietly realize these fashions. This may not matter to everyone, but Dior has remained more or less practical in their designs over the years, maintaining a blend of artistic statement and actual wear-ability that a lot of fashion has ceased prioritizing.


I don’t want to be excited for The Rock’s disaster movie, but this just looks too fun. That and I’m a sucker for anything with Carla Gugino in it. I hope The Rock and Paul Giamatti get a chance to buddy up for a long stretch of this movie, because that’s a buddy pairing made in heaven.


A lot of people are excited for this trailer, but I found the quiet, suggestive first entry much more exciting. I’m a bit disappointed to be shown just how much crazy CGI action is in the movie, how zany Clooney is meant to be, and how much of a chase is involved. The first trailer suggested a film about ideas. This one suggests Race to Witch Mountain (speaking of The Rock and Carla Gugino) with a bigger budget. That’s not a bad thing, I just liked the direction the first trailer hinted at and this one chucks the mysterious restraint it suggested right out the window.


I like the idea of an elderly Sherlock Holmes struggling with Alzheimer’s attempting to solve one last mystery, especially when the actor’s Ian McKellen. I’ll be in the seats on concept alone, despite its trailers failing to hook me.


This looks more narratively interesting than filmically great, but Charlize Theron in a Gillian Flynn adaptation sounds too promising to not mention. Flynn, of course, wrote the novel and screenplay for Gone Girl (read the review). Here, her work is adapted by a director, Gilles Paquet-Brenner, whose repertoire is mixed at best.


I’ll be honest – I’d be more interested in seeing a Thai family trying to survive a Thai coup than in seeing an American one – I think we’re at the point where white American audiences are open to that. And, as much as I love him, Owen Wilson and Pierce Brosnan are not the guys to be headlining this. I like the casting of Lake Bell, who ought to shine in this kind of film, but Wilson and Brosnan playing what appear to be Wilson and Brosnan archetypes – what, exactly, is the tone they’re going for in this?

This is here for no other reason than John Erick Dowdle, who directed two very underrated found footage horrors – Quarantine and last year’s As Above, So Below (read the review). If Dowdle ever figures out how to adapt his fine sense of POV choreography to third-person storytelling, he’s going to be a terrific director. That’s a big “if,” however.


Eli Roth-produced clown horror Clown, and an indie horror movie about a house of girls called Girlhouse (where do they come up with these titles?) really gave our winner a run for its money this week, but in the end, Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2 is why we can’t have nice things.

Other trailers of interest include:

Morgan Freeman and Diane Keaton are a terrific comedic pairing, even if the plot for 5 Flights Up – they try to sell a Brooklyn apartment – sounds a little dry.

Watch the trailer for Ben Kingsley switching into the body of Ryan Reynolds in Self/Less only if you want to have the entire movie spoiled for you.

Avengers: Age of Ultron trailer #4,815 doesn’t sway me from my determination to root for James Spader, because he’s James Spader, although it does hint at a romance between Black Widow and Bruce Banner – my guess is it’s a set-up for both of them leaving each other for James Spader.

Your Nicholas Sparks entry for the year, The Longest Ride (snicker), stars a baby Eastwood and Alan Alda, so there’s that. Oh damn, too bad the romance isn’t between them. That’s a missed opportunity.

My hopes are not high for Danish Western The Salvation, but Mads Mikkelsen and Eva Green are the basis for a standout cast – trailers have looked all over the map, but the latest is the best.

There’ll be a feature on upcoming independent comedies later this week, since this is already the longest Trailers of the Week yet.

The Top 10 Most Anticipated Films of 2015: Terrorist Meryl Streep, Lightsabers & Time Travel

Mad Max Fury Road Tom Hardy

by Gabriel Valdez

The top ten is a mix of big-budget movies and independent-minded films, but two of my top three films feature women directing. This is the kind of thing I think most lists miss when they just stick to Star Wars, Jurassic Park, and Marvel everything. Now, I’ll spoil something – I list Star Wars here – big surprise, but Most Anticipated lists can’t just be the big stuff. They have to mix it up.

You’re not showing anyone anything when you only talk about what they already know.

I don’t want to launch into a diatribe about criticism, but the industry really is threatened by a mass consensus attitude that demands championing anything popular beforehand for the clicks, and then tearing it down afterward for the clicks. And then the industry has the gall to turn around and criticize Hollywood for its lack of imagination.

Moving on:

Hateful Eight


When I stepped into the theater for Quentin Tarantino’s Inglorious Basterds, I thought to myself, this is the final straw. This is where Tarantino steps up and proves he’s about something more than celebrating style, or the place I can finally bury having to be concerned about him. Coming off the night-and-day halves of Kill Bill and the well-filmed but utterly needless Deathproof, I was really hoping for an excuse to bury him. By the time I walked out, I felt like I’d been sucker punched.

Tarantino’s always been capable of making you laugh even while sending chills up your spine and making you feel guilty about it, but those skills could often find themselves drowned under the weight of his pulp. There wasn’t a balance. His films could really be about something one minute and then waste that opportunity the next. But with Basterds and Django Unchained, Tarantino has hit his stride, creating dramas within satires where the message shapes the film around it more than the style. Rarely have audiences packed theaters to see films that make them this uncomfortable. There’s no reason to believe Tarantino will falter at this point, especially in a Western packed with villains. I just hope he’s able to maintain the balance he’s found, and doesn’t fall into old habits. His old habits made good films, sure, but his new habits make great ones. November 13.


I know, this should be #1, right? Cause Star Wars.

Count me disillusioned by the prequels. Count me wary of how they’re splitting up the Star Wars universe into the Marvel film-a-year approach. I actually like the choice of JJ Abrams to direct, as I’ve written before, and the first trailer looked fantastic.

I’m just a bit worn out. For a franchise that hasn’t had a new movie in 10 years, it’s omnipresent. There’s something to be said for: “Absence makes the heart grow fonder.” Star Wars hasn’t been absent. It’s like the guest you invited to your holiday party is still camping out on your couch. And the holiday party was in 2005.

It’s #9 on my list, so I’m excited to see it, but…I think we could use some space before all that, Star Wars. It’s not you, it’s me. Wait, that’s not right, it’s totally you. December 18.


Finally, the return of Mel Gibson to the franchise that made him what he was (minus, you know, the racist stuff). In Mad Max, Gibson reprises his- wait, what? He’s been replaced? God, who could they get to replace Mel Gibson in one of the most iconic roles ever created?

It couldn’t be. No, it’s not possible…. They wouldn’t.

Ladies and gentlemen, I’ve just been told that Mel Gibson has been replaced by, er, Tom Hardy. It may come as a shock to you, but I’ve also been informed that I am being replaced by Tom Hardy. As it turns out, we will all be replaced with Tom Hardy by the end of the day. In fact, everyone in the world is now being played by Tom Hardy, with the exception of Werner Herzog, who managed to stave off the transformation with a vial of Klaus Kinski’s bone marrow he tag locked in the jungles of Peru in 1979. On the state of things, Herzog commented that he was “unperturbed but sleepy, with the energy of dreams.”

OK, with five roles in four films on this top 40, you wouldn’t think Hardy has the time, but Tom Hardy and space-time are apparently one and the same. (We’re going to have to re-dub a lot of Star Trek episodes now.)

Actually, Tom Hardy looks like a perfect fit in Mad Max: Fury Road. Watch the incredibly colorful trailer (how do so many post-apocalypse films forget that the natural world is so colorful?) and you’ll even notice how well Hardy picks up the subtle gestures, glances, and weary looks of Gibson.

In summation, Tom Hardy is the best, I’m looking forward to this just a smidgen more than Star Wars, which for whatever reason committed the unending shame of not casting Tom Hardy, and long live our glorious leader Tom Hardy. May 15.


You’ll notice I’m getting the 3 most important big-budget films of the year (to me, at least) out of the way right here, and Tomorrowland is the one that really makes me hope. The director of Pixar animated classics “The Incredibles” and “Ratatouille,” Brad Bird tells the story of a young girl (Britt Robertson) who joins an inventor played by George Clooney to travel to a place outside of space and time (I’m sorry, outside of Tom Hardy) in order to to try to set the world right. It feels like a cross between The Wizard of Oz and Amazing Stories. If the trailer’s any indication, it will have a great deal to say about the troubled times in which we live. May 22.


Terrance Malick makes amazing films that force you to consider your lonely place in a vast universe. And then he holds onto them for years and years until everyone’s forgotten he made them. Knight of Cups looks like it’s Malick’s take on the genre of excess, starring one of the most ridiculous casts of the year (Christian Bale, Natalie Portman, Cate Blanchett, Imogen Poots, Antonio Banderas, Wes Bentley). Nobody quite knows what to expect. The trailer is pure insanity, and only makes you less sure of what to expect. Such is the way of Malick. December 11.


Robert Heinlein is perhaps the greatest science-fiction writer to have ever put pen to page. His most controversial and challenging short story is called “-All You Zombies-”. It’s a story about time travel and influencing the path your former self takes in life. It’s simple to understand, but narratively audacious. It is a masterpiece of storytelling about identity.

It is impossible to film. I mean, there are things that are hard to film, and then there are things that are impossible to film, and then there’s “-All You Zombies-”.

The Spierig brothers aren’t the first directors you’d choose to film something like this. They previously directed moody vampire story Daybreakers, a solid genre piece that unfortunately goes overboard in its last 10 minutes. Still, they have rare style and a relationship with just about the only actor I’d ever trust to play this role – Ethan Hawke. The sheer audacity of adapting this tale is what shoots this to the top of my list. If you’ve read the story, you damn well know why. But if they can pull this off, if they can make it what it ought to be or even come close, it will be the kind of film that makes you unable to move when the credits finally roll. January 9/Out now/Probably going to have to wait until DVD.


One of the best and most overlooked films of the past few years is Mud, a coming-of-age tale that recalls Steven Spielberg’s early work, only featuring rural Arkansas and Matthew McConaughey instead of aliens. Writer-director Jeff Nichols follows it up with the story of a father and son on the run after the son develops powers. He’s cited John Carpenter classic Starman as his inspiration. Looking at Nichols’s filmography, including Shotgun Stories and Take Shelter, he has yet to take a wrong step.

Most new American stories feel too generic, too in-service to a brand-name Americana that doesn’t feel real. Nichols’ stories emerge from a classic Americana closer to Jack London, Flannery O’Connor, and Mark Twain. The stakes are simple and personal, the stories organic and unexpected, the world around you wide open, thick with character and atmosphere, and yet always seen through a personal bubble you can never quite escape. He is one of the most important filmmakers just now breaking into the industry.

Midnight Special stars Kirsten Dunst, Adam Driver, Joel Edgerton, Michael Shannon, and Sam Shepard. November 25.

(Since there are no trailers or promotional images, I’ve posted the trailer for Nichols’s Mud up above. It’s some of the best two hours you can spend watching a movie.)



Meryl Streep and Helena Bonham Carter as terrorists? Tell me more. They play Emmeline Pankhurst and Edith New, respectively. They were the leaders of Britain’s suffrage movement, which fought for the right of women to vote during the turn of the 20th century. The state condemned them and reacted brutally to their battle for real democracy. The movement turned underground and spent years organizing, enduring and provoking extreme violence in turn.

This is written by BBC mainstay and The Iron Lady scribe Abi Morgan, and directed by a hugely promising up-and-comer: Sarah Gavron. It also stars Carey Mulligan, Ben Whishaw, and Brendan Gleeson.

It’s eery to think that, in many democratic countries (including the U.S.), women have had the right to vote for less than 100 years. September 11.

Crimson Peak Wasikowska


Guillermo Del Toro is the best horror director working today. With Crimson Peak, he’s stepping into new territory. Telling what he calls a “ghost story and gothic romance,” the film stars genre wunderkid Mia Wasikowska as a young woman who marries a man who isn’t quite what he appears to be. That man is played by everyone’s favorite Loki, Tom Hiddleston.

The prospect of seeing these two play off actors like Jessica Chastain and Doug Jones (who has played more Del Toro creatures than any other actor – think of him as Del Toro’s Andy Serkis)…it’s all too enticing to put anywhere else but right near the top of this list. October 16.


To quote Alessia Palanti on her review of Boyhood, “After so many years the final result is dotted with formulaic plot points, cliches, a number of feel-good heteronormative Americana stereotypes, and an uninteresting family…I can see why it would capture an audience’s attention, and how its middle class familiar life scenarios could forge mutual understanding between film and viewer. But is this what boyhood really is? And if so, should we really be so celebratory?”

Palanti concluded her review by asking for a Girlhood version of Boyhood.

I’ll answer her with a quote from Daily Beast critic Molly Hannon in her review for Celine Sciamma’s Girlhood: “Sciamma’s film effectively captures the painful realities of young African-French girls living in the French projects who are marginalized by society, mistreated by their families, and preyed upon by unscrupulous characters. The girls only have each other, and it is their banded friendship that empowers them, gives them the security they crave while also giving them a safe place to remain young.”

Before we go on, the film Girlhood has nothing to do with the film Boyhood. It’s more accurately translated as Gang of Girls, but this would carry unfortunate connotations in English. Girlhood is not #1 on this list to riff on Boyhood or be snarky. Yet the comparison is there because of the Americanized title, so let me tell you why it’s number one by telling you why Boyhood doesn’t make my year-end lists: because I can’t see any of the characters in Boyhood really caring that much about the characters in Girlhood. That doesn’t mean they’re bad people, it just means they enjoy a certain privilege not to have to face responsibility for what’s outside the ken of their own lives.

They’re able to participate in rites of passage that don’t necessarily engender healthy people, and yet those rites of passage are celebrated as part of being an average, normal American. There are moments of Boyhood that don’t ring true for people who faced those moments from a different perspective, or simply declined to participate in them.

So why is Girlhood first on my list when it will also present a perspective I have not inhabited? These are the most popular comments to the trailers for Girlhood on YouTube. I apologize for the language, but these are direct quotes:

“Niggers being niggers….. that’s all.”

“I wonder how many wigs are in this movie.”

“Might I dare to suggest a slight change in title to Hood Girls.”

“So they made a movie out of black female flash mobs. So what. Who cares. I don’t.”

“That weave tho…smh.”

“fucking racist negroes taking over France”

Boyhood is a fine film but, to me, it carries with it the luxury of not caring. There’s an Americana to it that is lovely and sentimental, but also narcissistic and illusory. Give me instead the film that takes that luxury away, that offers me a perspective that feels real and unique instead of averaged and branded as “normal.”

Girlhood arrives at a time when civil rights are at issue once more both in the United States and in France, when police violence is untenable in both, when here the voting rights that formed the very core that marchers died for (as was recounted in 2014’s Selma) have been undermined on the state level and by the Supreme Court, and after years of France similarly legislating lesser lives with lesser rights for minority groups including French-Africans.

What film do I want to see the most? I want to see the most technically accomplished, yes. I want to see something emotional, no doubt. But more than anything else, I want to see something that takes on the world unafraid, that can tell a story and make a point, that makes me face the worst of the world and still find beauty. What movies do just a hair better than any other storytelling medium is put you in somebody else’s shoes, give you access to seeing the world and thinking of it from another person’s perspective, so that you might come out a little differently than you went in. Of all the movies on this list, Girlhood is the one that makes me feel like it could be all of those things. January 30.

That’s the list! I’ll put up a recap in coming days, so you can see everything #40 through #1 lined up together.

In the meantime, if you missed #40-31, didn’t see #30-21, or want to know what #20-11 are, I just linked them all in this sentence. Behold, the magic of the internet.

Trailers of the Week — Only “Tomorrowland”

by Gabriel Valdez

Disillusionment. We’re used to trailers that show us magical places full of wonder and awe. A two hour escape into a movie, into a world that changes from beginning to end. That’s appealing.

We’re not use to trailers that show us why we want to escape there so badly. One shot, one little aside – a young girl glancing at the TV – tells me all I need to know about why this movie’s being made. On that TV is a riot, protesters squaring off with police.

We don’t know why this girl is getting out of jail or what her world is like outside this flat gray room. But we do have one detail that connects her existence to ours: disillusionment.

It used to be that young adult movies communicated a child not quite belonging to the rest of society through orphanhood, the death of a parent, or divorce. But we feel it on the back of our necks when we read the news, when we see police firing at protesters, cameramen being beaten just for doing their jobs. None of us quite belong to this society. None of us look at the state of things and imagine: this is what I expected, this is what I hoped for.

Tomorrowland, at least in this trailer, doesn’t communicate a fantastic world very well. It communicates a disappointing one. It communicates a desire for something better, a desire so overwhelmed and constantly assaulted that it can’t even take shape.

Dozens of trailers tell us, “Go here. See this. Feel better.”

This one tells us, “Look around. It’s OK to be overwhelmed. I’m overwhelmed, too.”

This is the only trailer we’re featuring this week. That’s an experiment, and runs counter to the purpose of this series, but everything else seems to dilute the impact of Tomorrowland. This is the one that’s got me thinking.